When a marriage does not work out, some couples
may decide to part ways and divorce. If this is a step you have taken, avoid
any pitfalls by being aware of what you have to consider and the decisions you
will have to make.
Your 1st Steps
There are probably many things on your mind as you go through the divorce proceedings. While it is a difficult time, settling child custody matters (if children are involved), financial arrangements and the distribution of matrimonial assets are necessary, so that you can look ahead and plan for your future.
A divorce can be stressful and it will effect major changes in your life. The custody of your child is one of the key issue that you may have to address. The custody will be decided by the Family Court of Singapore and it will consider many factors before deciding on the custodianship of your child. If you are granted the custody of your child, you have the right to:
(a) make major decisions concerning the welfare and upbringing of the child,
(b) have the child live with you, and
(c) make day-to-day decisions concerning the child.
While it will be difficult to have your child divided between you and your ex-spouse, you should put the welfare of your child first.
For more information on child custody matters, click here.
It is common for couples to have joint savings or credit lines to manage expenses that come up as part of a marriage. If you and your ex-spouse have such financial arrangements, you may wish to consider closing these joint accounts. Any shared loans, debts on purchases, investments or co-owned properties will also need to be reviewed when you get a divorce.
With the change in your marital status, you may wish to update your Will and beneficiaries of any insurance policies that you may have bought previously. Do note that your Central Provident Fund (CPF) nomination does not change despite the change in your marital status. If you wish to change your CPF nomination after your divorce, you are encouraged to do so by visiting any of the CPF Service Centres. Our customer service executives can explain what the nomination entails and act as your witnesses, if needed. Alternatively, you can mail the completed form to the CPF Board.
Your matrimonial home will probably be the largest asset that needs to be divided in the divorce proceedings. You and your ex-spouse may jointly decide on the outcome of your property, if you had both used your CPF savings for the purchase. This can be in the form of a transfer of ownership to your ex-spouse, sale of your share to your ex-spouse or in the open market. This applies to both HDB flats and private properties.
If you wish to transfer or sell your HDB flat, you will first need to meet the HDB eligibility criteria. In addition, if you had used your CPF savings for the purchase, you will have to refund the amount that you had used to the respective CPF accounts as well as the accrued interest you would have earned on that sum upon the sale. This is the amount that you would have accumulated in your CPF if you had not used it for housing. However, if the selling price (at fair market value) is insufficient for you to make the refund, you need not meet the shortfall with cash. In order to transfer the HDB flat to your ex-spouse, you will also have to pay any outstanding HDB loans and refund any grants that you had received when you purchased your flat.
The Court can also rule for a transfer of ownership for your share in the property to your ex-spouse, with partial or no CPF refund to your CPF account in the divorce. There will be no refund to your CPF account when your ex-spouse subsequently sells or transfers the property.
For more information, click here.
In the event of a divorce, the Court may divide the matrimonial assets acquired during the couple's marriage, including CPF monies. The Court could also order the sale of a property or investments. Once the CPF refunds / investment proceeds have been credited to your CPF account, the Court could order a division of the refunds / proceeds.
This division can be done through a CPF transfer (only applicable if your ex-spouse is Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident) or through a charging order. If your ex-spouse is a foreigner, he/she can only request for a charging order. In a CPF transfer, the Court can order an immediate transfer of your CPF savings to your ex-spouse's CPF savings under the division of CPF savings in a divorce. If the Court places a charging order on your CPF savings, your ex-spouse will be entitled to receive his/her share of your CPF monies in cash, when you are eligible to withdraw your CPF savings.
Find out more about the distribution of your CPF monies and CPF investments in a divorce.
Health and Life Insurance
Your ex-spouse may have had a group insurance policy that covered you and your child. With the divorce, this will no longer be available to you. Consider purchasing an insurance plan for yourself and/or your child, if you do not have one. This can help protect you against unexpected changes and events in the foreseeable future.
Building a pool of emergency savings can also help you tide through unexpected life changes.
Your assets may have been distributed during the divorce proceedings and it is a good idea to start building your savings. If you wish to grow your savings through investments, you should consider the risks involved and do your research before making an investment decision, as it may subsequently affect other aspects of your life. It is always good to exercise prudence and pay careful attention to details in all investment matters.
Find out more about Investing.
Single Parent Families
It can be challenging raising a child as a single parent. Fortunately, there is help available through ComCare, which provides social assistance to low-income individuals and families. Find out more on ComCare.
Alternatively, you may contact ComCare at 1800-222-0000, your estate's Citizens' Consultative Committee, Community Development Council or a nearby Family Service Centre if you need help.
can be stressful for both parties and this can affect your children and other
family members greatly. Despite the emotional upheaval during this period, knowing
where you stand in terms of child custody, asset distribution and other legal
matters can help you move forward with your life.